PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island officials hope a new $250-million offshore wind farm will not only power tens of thousands of homes, but also make the state a leader in the nation’s wind energy industry.
State and local leaders and representatives from the developer, Deepwater Wind, laid out some of the details of the “Revolution Wind” project in a formal announcement Wednesday at the Port of Providence.
Deepwater Wind said it’s investing $250 million into the project and will not be receiving any state tax incentives or credits. Once it’s up and running, Rhode Island ratepayers would buy power from the wind farm through National Grid.
The Providence-based firm was selected last week to build the wind farm, which they say will be 10 times larger than the one it built off the coast of Block Island that began running in 2016. The new facility will be located in federal waters roughly midway between Block Island and Martha’s Vineyard, officials said, and it will contain up to 50 wind turbines.
Officials said the project will create more than 800 construction jobs and 50 permanent positions at “every skill level,” as well as hundreds more indirect jobs.
“This investment means new good-paying jobs for Rhode Islanders,” U.S. Rep. David N. Cicilline said in a statement. “It will help keep long-term energy costs down, while fueling our economy with clean, local power.”
The turbine components will be built both in and out of state, according to Deepwater Wind CEO Jeff Grybowski.
“Really significant fabrication and construction construction activity right here in ProvPort and in Quonset,” he said.
Buying power from the Block Island wind farm cost ratepayers 24.4 cents per kWh in the first year and the rate increased from there. Grybowski said the rates for the new wind farm will be “dramatically lower” than the Block Island rates.
“This project is dramatically larger,” Grybowski explained. “So with scale, costs come down, and the technology is just advancing rapidly. The turbines are bigger, they’re more efficient, and that efficiency allows us to drop the cost dramatically.”
Grybowski said more detailed information on rates will be announced once the firm negotiates a contract with National Grid. Any agreement would then need to be approved by state regulators.
Deepwater says the wind farm is a win for many, including commercial fishermen. But members of the local fishing industry have expressed concerns that the project could threaten their livelihood.
“We are swapping a food source, and our fishing community, for wind power,” Richard Fuka of the R.I. Fishermen’s Alliance said Wednesday.
“We already abide by roughly 340 spatial regulations, so we can’t just legally relocate,” Seafreeze Ltd. Fisheries Liaison Meghan Lapp added.
They also expressed concerns about the destruction of species.
“More than half of the squid caught on the East Coast is landed in the state of Rhode Island, and you run the very real risk of losing that resource,” Lapp said.
“We’re putting our fishing community at risk by expediting and moving too quickly,” Fuka said. “We don’t know a fraction of all the facts.”
Grybowski assured Deepwater will take the interests of local fishermen into account.
“Our turbines are spaced about a mile apart, so there’s a lot of room to operate. Fishermen can continue to fish in those waters,” Grybowski said. “But in order for that to work out, we need to work collaboratively with them.”
The hope is to begin construction on the wind farm in 2020 and have it up and running by 2023. Officials said the 400-megawatt facility will provide enough energy to power more than 200,000 homes in Rhode Island.
“The next industrial revolution is in renewable energy,” Gov. Gina Raimondo said. “Once again, Rhode Island is leading the way.”
Rhode Island approved the Deepwater project last week through a bidding process led by Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration, which backed an 800-megawatt project proposed by a different company – Vineyard Wind – for the Bay State.